NBA team owners are set to adopt stricter rules against resting star players this week, including higher fines for missed games by multiple All-Star players, unnamed sources reported Monday.
The NBA board of governors is expected to implement tougher regulations on “load management” based on a recommendation by the NBA’s competition committee. These regulations would prevent teams from resting more than one player who has been an NBA All-Star or All-NBA player within the past three seasons.
According to reports, teams could face fines of $100,000 for the first violation, $250,000 for the second violation, and increasing amounts for subsequent violations.
The new policy aims to ensure that star players are not absent for major televised games as the NBA seeks to secure new media rights deals. Additionally, the NBA’s new in-season tournament is expected to address concerns from potential partners about player absences.
The league has already taken steps to discourage players from sitting out games without injury or personal reasons by mandating that players participate in at least 65 of the 82 regular-season games to be eligible for awards such as NBA Most Valuable Player.
Players have expressed a desire for the NBA to address the demand issues that lead them to manage their rest during the six-month regular season, especially as the new in-season event debuts in November and December.
The NBA league office will conduct investigations into resting as a method of enforcement, including independent medical reviews.
According to a memo obtained by ESPN, teams will be responsible for managing player availability to ensure that no more than one “star” player is absent for a game. The memo also emphasizes the importance of stars being available for nationally televised games and in-season tournament contests. Furthermore, teams are encouraged to balance the number of one-game absences by star players between home and road games, with a preference for absences to occur during home games.
Teams must ensure that players sitting out for rest purposes are present at games and visible to spectators. The memo also advises teams to avoid long-term shutdowns or reducing players’ roles to maintain game integrity.
The NBA will grant certain excused absences, including pre-approved back-to-back rest games for players who are 35 or older at the start of the season or have played 34,000 regular-season minutes or 1,000 combined playoff and regular-season games.